How To Plan for Better Recognition for 2021

If you want people to give better quality recognition and to have people recognized more frequently than they are now, then you had better plan to transform recognition with a carefully thought out plan, now. 

Your engagement surveys, pulse surveys, focus group feedback, and recognition program data will give you both the qualitative and quantitative read on the state of employee recognition in your organization. 

Your job is to work with the leaders and managers in your organization to define and create the future of employee recognition. It’s time to plan out how you will achieve better recognition for 2021 in your organization. 

1. Set a one-year focus goal. What is the overall goal you want to achieve with making recognition better by the end of 2021? How will leaders and managers practice giving recognition more frequently? How will everyone use your online recognition programs more equitably? 

Conduct monthly and quarterly recognition practices, and recognition program reviews, to monitor progress. Target any behaviors to act on and needed learning to improve everyone’s abilities to give better employee recognition.

2. Narrow down on the vital few things to improve. You cannot improve everything that needs fixing. But you can look at your one-year focus goal and ask yourself what points of focus will help you reach your goal? What actions will make the biggest impact on the employee experience? 

Look for the vital few actions that will get leaders and managers more engaged with giving better quality and more frequent recognition. Find out what your employees need and want to be more effective and exemplary recognition givers with your programs. 

3. Create some concrete action goals. You know the areas of focus you need to work on. Now you must set some actionable objectives that will see these ideas implemented and not remain on paper. What resources do you need to make these actions happen? How can you help leaders and managers to better use your programs? Is there one thing people could do that would make recognition better?

Write up a minimum of one goal specific to each area of focus. This will allow you to delegate one focus area with its actionable goals to an implementation team to make it happen.

4. Determine your measures of success. For every goal set for each focus area, figure out how you will measure the outputs or outcomes of success. You must be able to gauge progress and what measures are most effective. Lagging indicators are delayed and harder to affect. Leading indicators are easier to influence and change. 

Having concrete measures helps each implementation team know what you expect from them. Your action teams will know how they are doing today and how to estimate the time and effort needed to achieve the desired goal outcome. 

5. Find aligned stakeholders and allies. Seek out a committed executive sponsor who supports employee recognition and encourages full implementation of your plan. Work at sharing your recognition plans with supportive leaders and managers who can act as ambassadors of the cause.

It’s important to find allies and positive advocates for employee recognition. People who believe in the power of recognition can speak candidly about recognition program concerns they see and make strong recommendations for needed changes. 

6. Know what your non-negotiables are. There will be some things you will have to give in to as you move recognition forward. Identify what you are not willing to give up on. Are there ways of redistributing the recognition budget to keep essential programs? What are you not prepared to negotiate on? Write out your non-negotiables and have with you in meetings.

Make a list of recognition practices and recognition programs that should stay and what you are prepared to sacrifice. Knowing what cannot change helps guide your implementation teams. 

7. Develop sprint action plans. Challenge each implementation team to create 90-day action plans towards the overall one-year goal. Then have them break down the first 90-day action plan into two-week sprints of what micro-action or task the team can work on. 

If you do not have access to teams of people to help you prioritize the focus areas in order of importance and then use the 90-day action plan concept. Request help from experts along the way to help with knowledge and skills you don’t have.

 8. Schedule in your action tasks. Plan in when you will work on your recognition goals and implementation plans each week. For each 90-day plan, set up your calendar with time slots to work on the tactics and actions required to complete each goal. You can even schedule a bulk action time to work for a few hours to complete tasks. 

Use reminder notifications to nudge you for your scheduled action times. You can also use smartphone apps to remind and show you your goal progress. 

9. Communicate your progress regularly. Plan in the times and preferred method for giving progress updates on all the actionable goals. Have the leader of each implementation team email updates at 30 and 60 days. Then have them provide a one-page summary report at 90-day intervals, to provide current status and the plans for the next quarter. Ask your executive sponsor and manager you report to how they would like to receive progress reports. State the need for a face-to-face meeting every six months, if not quarterly.

A wise leader said that when performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates. 

10. Keeping track on achieving goals. The key to achieving your recognition plans for 2021 is planning in when you will work on your plans and tracking your progress so that progress is visible. Use tools like spreadsheets or web-based or mobile applications like Trello and Asana. These online tools help to organize teams, track progress, and manage the next steps to take. 

Your different teams can see where they are at and you get to see the big picture towards achieving next year’s overall goal.

While I know that you can’t do everything, especially if you are the only one running recognition in your organization. But as Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” You will soon see soon better recognition happening one-on-one and through using your recognition programs better and more effectively. 

Recognition Reflection: Are you making time to plan how you will make recognition better next year?

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